Steven Arnold’s Alternative Gospels
A new retrospective of underground maverick Steven Arnold
22 Nov 2012
ART IS REVOLUTION, OR IT’S NOTHING.
– Steven Arnold
A new retrospective exhibition in California is celebrating American artist Steven Arnold’s artistic world of surreal fantasy, trailing his work through many never before exhibited drawings, sketchbooks, paintings and original poster art. Working across the mediums of film and photography, Arnold’s work is filled with curious hybrids between Jesus and Tutankhamun, tribal chiefs and Dionysian gods.
Connecting sex, death, religion, identity, mythology and psychedelia, Arnold composes highly theatrical and dramatic photographic portraits, a kind of alternative Gospel with a motley crew of surreal countercultural creatures as modern-day saints. His film work fuses drag, homoerotic tableaux and mysticism, and notably featured the likes of San Francisco’s notorious psychedelic hippie drag troupe, The Cockettes. They star in Luminous Procuress (1971), a film lauded by Salvador Dali and which you can watch here on The Third Eye’s Cinema.
“Androgynous nature lies in every male and female. Although it is rooted in antiquity, it contains a powerful message for our own time. Spiritual perfection consists precisely in rediscovering one’s androgynous nature”, said Arnold.
Steven Arnold: Cabinet of Curiosities is on view through January 12 2013 at ONE Archives Gallery & Museum, 626 North Robertson Boulevard, West Hollywood, California.
Photographs Courtesy of the Steven Arnold Archive
Text by Sophie Pinchetti
“I’m creating my own mythology from the shards of the universe.”
“The Mother of Earth saves us and unites us – We her children.”
“The right brain is the freeway to the soul.”
“Nowadays, in our cities of steel, we still haven’t lost our need for ancient ritual. Our dances with masks and drum are alive in our bones. We are witch-doctors in designer jeans. The same sexual impulses rule our buying power, claw at our self-illusion. We get high, on whatever, and tune into our instinctual selves. We seek guides, need teachings. As we accumulate, we share, and thus we grow. The more evolved our sharing, the richer our growth.
Oh, beautiful evenings, when we truly share!”